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Here's How Parents Can Include More Omega-3 in Their Child's Diet

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for overall brain health. Without this, it can become difficult for children to concentrate, learn new information, and balance their moods properly. Since most children do not eat oily fish on a regular basis, omega-3s are in short supply during the most critical stages of brain development. And this can lead to weak memory, inability to focus, irritability, and even anxiety.

 

However, as a parent, you can prevent this by including omega-3 in your child's diet. And this blog guides you on exactly how you can do it. So, read in full.

What is Omega 3? What are its Benefits?

Omega-3 fatty acids are the essential nutrients the body cannot make on its own. Your body absorbs Omega-3 from the diet you take. They are essential for the growth of a healthy body, are an energy source, and keep your lungs, nervous system, immune system, and blood vessels working appropriately and efficiently.

Not only do these fatty acids help your body to function but deliver some huge health benefits. Some of them are:

-Healthy Brain Growth and Function

60% of the brain is made of fat, and Omega-3 fatty acid DHA composes around 10-15% of it. DHA is crucial for the healthy growth and development of the sensory, cognitive, perceptual, and motor neural systems. It also prevents mood disorders and depression in children.

-May Improve ADHD Symptoms

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a common condition with symptoms like impulsiveness, hyperactivity, and difficulty focusing on one thing. Omega-3 fatty acids alter the cellular membranes in the nervous system, which may help individuals with ADHD in several brain processes.

-Improves Vision

More than 60% of DHA is present in the retinal cell membranes for normal vision development. DHA and other omega-3 fatty acids are involved in the regeneration of the retinal pigment rhodopsin, which helps convert light received by the retina into visual images in the brain. Studies suggest that omega-3 deficiency may cause functional defects in vision

-Promotes Better Sleep

Sleep disturbances are common among children. According to studies, children who are lower in omega-3 fatty acids might experience sleep disorders. Several other studies also suggest that consuming more omega-3 fatty acids for pregnant mothers could help infants with sleep issues.

How Can Parents Include Omega-3 in Their Child's Diet?

Some kids are picky about what they eat. So, to avoid the battle of feeding the child with the necessary nutrients in every meal, omega-3 supplements are one option several parents like to go for when it comes to adding Omega-3 fatty acids to their child's diet.

You can get a variety of Omega-3 supplements in the market, but most of them consist of fish oil or krill oil extracts. That is why you must do your research and consult a pediatrician before buying an omega-3 supplement for your kid. You can:

  • Try to look for the one that actually includes Omega-3.
  • Opt for the one with a high value of DHA and more of the essential fatty acids in omega-3.

Children do not generally like capsules as it is hard to swallow. So, look for omega-3 supplements that come in the form of jelly, oil, gel capsules, or chewable tablets.

While fish oil gummies are a famous option among the different forms of supplements, the typical doses of these gummies to fulfill the daily omega-3 requirement are quite high. So that means the kids might have to consume 3-4 gummies a day. That might not be a great option considering the high sugar content, which can lead to cavities.

Another interesting variant of Omega-3 supplements is supplement strips. Wellbeing Nutrition offers delicious strawberry mint-flavored Disney Frozen Omega strips for children. Adults can go for Slow Virgin Omega Capsules to provide triple-strength omega-3 with essential fatty acids and curcumin to maximize the anti-inflammatory benefits.

Foods Containing Omega-3

There are several vegans and animal-based sources of foods rich in Omega-3. Oily fish is one of the top sources of Omega-3, especially tuna fish, salmon, sardines, etc. Plant-based sources include nuts like walnuts, seeds like chia seeds, flax seeds, and canola & uncooked flax oils.

However, making the kids eat such healthy foods is not easy. Most children are fussy eaters. So, here's what you can do:

  • Mix in a Smoothie -

Add a teaspoon of flaxseed oil over your kid's smoothie. Do not heat the oil as it might lose its properties and not benefit the child in the way it is intended to. You can add a teaspoon into the smoothie and mix it up with a spoon and serve.
  • Blend With Nuts and Seeds -

You can blend the nuts and seeds into their smoothies, and they will never know what's inside. Chia pudding topped with fresh fruits is an excellent dish to serve your kids.
  • Add to Salad Dressing -

You can also add oil to the salad dressing to mask the taste and texture of certain things. Adding fish oil, flax oil, or omega-3 supplement oil to the salads or citrusy juice is another great option to hide away the bad taste of these oils.
  • Mix into soft foods -

Another way of sneakily adding the oil is to mix it up in cold yogurt, mashed potatoes, or nut butter. You can then spread the nut butter on crackers, toast, biscuits, fruits, etc. Remember, any soft food will work but make sure it is not hot.
  • Drink it Straight –

Well, this is something not every parent will prefer to do with their kid, and even children will hate it. But if they do agree, asking them to drink it in one sip and following it up with a delicious beverage or food to avoid the aftertaste isn't a bad idea. This is by far the most effortless way and can feel rewarding as well.
  • Make Fish Snacks -

For the fish part, you can make a tuna salad or eat it with plain crackers or bread. You can also make tuna cakes or crumbled fish bites.

Whatever way you choose to add omega-3 to your child's food, do not forget that the food must consist of an adequate quantity of Omega-3 that is actually benefiting the child.

Wrapping Up

Omega 3 is crucial for the healthy development of kids. It may help improve their concentration, memory, and learning skills. However, not every child likes to go for fish, seeds or nuts, or even supplements. That is why you must ensure to sneakily include them in their diet by hook or by crook. At the end of the day, it is for the benefit of your kids.

References

Kuratko CN, Barrett EC, Nelson EB, Salem N Jr. The relationship of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) with learning and behavior in healthy children: a review. Nutrients. 2013 Jul 19;5(7):2777-810. doi: 10.3390/nu5072777. PMID: 23877090; PMCID: PMC3738999. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3738999/

Derbyshire E. Do Omega-3/6 Fatty Acids Have a Therapeutic Role in Children and Young People with ADHD? J Lipids. 2017;2017:6285218. doi: 10.1155/2017/6285218. Epub 2017 Aug 30. PMID: 28951787; PMCID: PMC5603098. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5603098/

Knez Hrnčič M, Ivanovski M, Cör D, Knez Ž. Chia Seeds (Salvia hispanica L.): An Overview-Phytochemical Profile, Isolation Methods, and Application. Molecules. 2019 Dec 18;25(1):11. doi: 10.3390/molecules25010011. PMID: 31861466; PMCID: PMC6994964. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6994964/

Rodriguez-Leyva D, Dupasquier CM, McCullough R, Pierce GN. The cardiovascular effects of flaxseed and its omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid. Can J Cardiol. 2010 Nov;26(9):489-96. doi: 10.1016/s0828-282x(10)70455-4. PMID: 21076723; PMCID: PMC2989356. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2989356/

Dai Y, Liu J. Omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid and sleep: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials and longitudinal studies. Nutr Rev. 2021 Jul 7;79(8):847-868. doi: 10.1093/nutrit/nuaa103. PMID: 33382879; PMCID: PMC8262633. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8262633/

Krupa K, Fritz K, Parmar M. Omega-3 Fatty Acids. [Updated 2022 Sep 26]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK564314/

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